“Christmas in the Holy Land — somber, yet triumphant”

Modern Bethlehem

  Here's a Christmas-related column that I wrote for Salt Lake City's Deseret News slightly more than four years ago: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705386854/Christmas-in-the-Holy-Land-2-somber-yet-triumphant.html   … [Read more...]

An impassioned speech in the House of Representatives

Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina

  The oratory in the United States Congress rarely rises to very high levels.  (Of course, I'm one of the few, apparently, who've never understood why many consider Barack Obama a great speaker, either.  Even setting my political preferences aside, he doesn't seem to me at all remarkable in that respect.) Parliamentary debates in the United Kingdom are far more entertaining. But I just came across this 23 May 2014 speech last night, and I was i … [Read more...]

Christmas Cheer 29

Lonely Christmas tree before doors open

  It's good to laugh at Christmas time.  Here are four quotations that made me laugh, plus a paraphrase. I'll give the paraphrase first: I believe it was the late Phyllis Diller who said that the worst thing about Christmas parties was having to find a new job the next day. The first quotation is from Bennie Hill, and the last three are from Dave Barry. Roses are reddish.
Violets are bluish.
If it weren't for Christ … [Read more...]

“We are never alone.”

The Three-Gable House in Ditzingen

  "I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses." Taylor Caldwell, Anglo-American novelist (d. 1985)    … [Read more...]

“Microscopes find beauty in the most unexpected places”

Click to enlarge, if you want!

  A remarkable photo essay in the January 2015 issue of Scientific American, entitled "Living Large" -- you can see the first paragraph or two, and the first image, online here without subscribing -- features images of quite astounding beauty. They're pictures of bone and cervical cancer cells, barnacle appendages, the hind legs of an insect called a "plant hopper," retinal cells, fossil marine plankton, plant vasculature, a crab spider, a developing Japanese ee … [Read more...]

“The beginning of a new frontier”

BYU Provo

  The second issue of the redesigned and repurposed Mormon Studies Review, published by Brigham Young University's Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, has now appeared. I haven't yet read the entire issue, but the following passage, which appears in a review essay treating several books of interreligious dialogue between Mormons and others, seems worthy of note: While scholars of Mormon and evangelical literature have good reason t … [Read more...]

The Annunciation (in the Qur’an)

  "When the angels said, 'O Mary, truly God gives you good news of a Word from him, whose name is "the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary," distinguished in this world and the next and among those brought near (unto God.)'"   … [Read more...]

New Testament 8

Sabbatini's "Adoration of the Shepherds"

  Matthew 2:1-12Luke 2:8-20 The story of the magi or "wise men" appears only in Matthew.  The other three gospels don't mention them. How many "wise men" were there?  Greek nouns can indicate three "numbers" -- singular, dual, and plural.  The term translated as "wise men" (magoi, μάγοι, from which we derive magi) is definitely in the plural at Mathew 2:1.  So there were probably more than two -- although the grammatical dual was relatively unco … [Read more...]